Principal Planner

  • City of Costa Mesa, CA
  • Costa Mesa, California
  • Jun 04, 2022
Full Time Planning and Development
  • Salary: $111,228.00 - $149,040.00 Annually USD

Job Description


Current: $111,228.00 - $149,040.00 ( $ 53.48 - $71.65 Hourly ) DOQ

Effective July 2022: 2% Salary increase

There are currently two (2) full-time vacancies.

Under general direction, to plan, organize, oversee, direct, administer, supervise, and coordinate the work of a planning section staffed by professional, technical and clerical subordinates; to present and justify staff recommendations to management, committees, commissions, City Council, and community groups; to coordinate planning activities with other sections, divisions and departments; and to do other work as required.



Work assigned to this position involves the application of specialized knowledge in supervising planning projects and studies for a work section. This position may be assigned to the current planning, long range planning, or economic development work sections. An incumbent exercises considerable judgment and initiative in scheduling and assigning work, establishing work plans and priorities, and coordinating work with that of other sections, divisions or departments. Formal supervision is exercised over professional, technical and clerical staff. This class is distinguished from the class of Senior Planner by the weight of accountability for the number and complexity of functions performed and by formal supervisory responsibilities. Assignments are broad in scope and require the use of considerable independent judgment in making technical decisions and guiding work to completion. Work is reviewed through conferences and reports for results achieved, completeness, professional competence, timeliness, and adherence to Department priorities, direction, and pertinent policies, procedures and regulations.


This recruitment will remain open until filled and may close without prior notice, therefore prompt application is encouraged.

Update as of April 14, 2022 - The first application review has been extended to Friday, April 29th

Applications must be completed and submitted online by the specified deadline. This recruitment will remain open until filled and may close without prior notice, therefore prompt application is encouraged.

Candidates are requested to provide specific information regarding their education and experience as it relates to the position by completing all fields of the application. Do not include "see attached resume" in your responses, as they will not be reviewed in the application process. A detailed resume is also required; this can be uploaded into the "Attachments" section of the online application. Applications may be rejected if incomplete.

Based upon the information presented on the application, a limited number of candidates who possess qualifications most pertinent to the position will be invited to participate in the selection process. The selection process may include, but is not limited to the following components: application review and evaluation, written examination or exercise, physical examination, practical exercise and interview evaluation. Please notify the Human Resources Division 72 hours in advance of the test date if you have a disability which requires accommodation for the testing process. The eligibility list will be in effect for one (1) year, unless exhausted sooner. The eligibility list established from this recruitment may be utilized to fill lower-level vacancies which occur during the life of the list.

It is recommended you use a personal email address on your application instead of a work email address. Notifications during this recruitment will be sent by email only (regardless of the notification preference selected during the on-line application process). Notifications will be sent to the email address that is listed on your on-line application.

All employment offers made by the City are contingent upon establishing proof of a prospective candidate's legal authorization to work in the United States and successfully passing all components of the pre-employment process which may include, but is not limited to: comprehensive background check, criminal history check (livescan fingerprint check), polygraph examination, post-offer psychological evaluation and post-offer medical evaluation (may include drug screen). Based upon current and/or future assignments, an employee may be subject to pre-employment, random, reasonable and post-accident drug and alcohol testing pursuant to the Department of Transportation Regulations.

Note: The provisions of this job bulletin do not constitute an expressed or implied contract. Any provisions contained within may be modified or revoked without notice.

Essential Functions

These functions may not be present in all positions in this class. When a position is to be filled, the essential functions will be noted in the announcement of position availability. Management reserves the right to add, modify, change or rescind work assignments as needed.

Assumes supervisorial responsibility for major Development Services Department functions and activities including General Plan implementation, current planning, long range and environmental planning, zoning, and economic development;

Participates in developing, planning and implementing Development Services Department goals and objectives; recommend and implement changes to departmental programs, policies, and procedures.

Coordinates with and directs Planning staff regarding General Plan consistency, Zoning Code compliance, complex development projects, and delegation, oversight, and successful completion of assignments.

Meets with developers, engineers, property owners, contractors, Department staff and other agencies to discuss potential projects, pre-applications, feasibility analysis, submitted proposals, and development projects;

Prepares, reviews and presents staff reports, technical studies, and special projects to the City Council, Planning Commission, and other boards committees, and commissions.

Participates in the appointment of planning staff; plan, organize, assign, direct, oversee and supervise the work of planning staff including but not limited to public notices, technical analyses, staff reports, presentations, and other supporting documents; ensure accuracy, completeness and professional competence; provide professional guidance, coach, motivate, and evaluate performance; develop and implement staff training programs and plans; recommends and administers employee recognition and discipline.

Assists in the development of the departmental budget; participate in the forecast of revenue, expenses and additional funds needed for staffing, equipment, materials, and supplies. Assists in the preparation of the operational budget for assigned work section.

Responds to sensitive and difficult public inquiries, complaints, and requests for information; meet with property owners, business owners, and the public to address development proposals and resolve issues.

Assists management in planning activities of the division or department and in developing departmental policies, priorities, objectives and goals, and tracks and reports indicators and outcomes.

Meets with and advises developers regarding development applications and processes; explains purposes, regulations and directives of accepted development practices; suggests improved design for developments.

Analyzes and makes recommendations on planning applications submitted for discretionary review, including development permits, use permits, variances, subdivision maps, and master plans.

Analyzes and prepares city planning studies and documents including but not limited to the comprehensive General Plan, ordinances, strategic plans, planning studies, specific plans, community plans, area plans, overlays and other similar planning documents.

Directs the development of long-range fiscal and economic models and analyses.

Plans, directs, coordinates, reviews and participates in data collection, analyses, plan formulation and implementation of a wide variety of planning, zoning and development programs.

Analyzes workload needs and recommends staffing and other expenditures to accomplish assigned projects.

Performs other related work as required.

Serves as the City’s Zoning Administrator and/or staff liaison to the Planning Commission when assigned and may serve as staff liaison or support for an advisory committee or commission.

Retains and administers contracts with a variety of consultants and contractors as assigned.

Acts in the absence of a division manager or the Assistant Director.

Qualification Guidelines

A typical way to obtain the requisite knowledge and abilities to perform the duties and responsibilities of this classification is as follows:


Graduation from an accredited four-year college or university with major course work in urban planning, public administration, architecture, economics, geography or a related field. A master's degree in a related field is preferred.

Five years of progressively responsible professional experience in urban planning preferably encompassing both long range and current planning activities. Public agency experience including direct experience working independently and administering complex development projects, special studies, Subdivision Map Act, General Plan and Municipal Codes is also required. Experience with CEQA/NEPA compliance and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is preferred. Previous supervisory experience is also preferred.

An equivalent combination of education and relevant experience that provides the desired knowledge, sills and abilities to successfully perform essential functions may also be considered.


Certification by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) is preferred.


Considerable knowledge of the principles and practices of urban planning; laws and ordinances applicable to urban planning, community development, economic development, and zoning processes; and research methods and sources of information related to urban growth and development.

Knowledge of the principles of supervision, work organization, and personnel management.

Knowledge of economics, statistics and elementary demographics.

Skill in exercising management and budgetary principles and practices.


Ability to supervise and perform complex technical research on economic, engineering, transportation, zoning, redevelopment, environmental impact, urban design and sociological problems as part of the planning process.

Ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, and present technical information succinctly in an interesting manner.

Ability to analyze and supervise the systematic compilation of technical and statistical data and to prepare complex reports.

Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with intra and interdepartmental staff, city officials, representatives of other government agencies, community leaders, and the general public.

Ability to plan, organize and supervise the work of professional, technical and clerical personnel.

Ability to coordinate planning or development activities with other City sections, divisions, departments, land developers and other outside individuals.

Ability to comprehend and apply laws, regulations and policies related to municipal planning or redevelopment.

Ability to analyze a variety of administrative problems in the section and make sound policy and procedural decisions as to their solution.

Supplemental Information


Please contact Human Resources for a summary of the essential tasks and environmental factors for this classification.

Employee accommodations for physical or mental disabilities will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

To view benefit information for all groups, Click Here

New employees contribute the following amounts on a pre-tax basis towards the 2%@60 or 2%@62 CalPERS retirement formula depending on eligibility:
  • Effective July 8, 2018: 12% of their salary

Employees receive the following health insurance flexible benefits contribution:

  • Effective June 2022: $1,500 monthly

The City does not participate in the Social Security system; however, federal mandate requires new employees to contribute 1.45% of wages to Medicare. As a condition of employment, all new employees are required to enroll and participate in the direct deposit program.

Closing Date/Time: Continuous

Special Instructions


Job Address

Costa Mesa, California United States View Map